How to be effective presenting or meeting online

Lockdown has led to a boom in online meetings, presentation, webinars, presentations, demonstrations, and training.

Businesspeople who formerly presented face-to-face have been forced to turn to video software like Zoom and Teams, and we have all experienced the full quality spectrum of them over the last year. In fact, a fair few online mishaps have gone viral – from video bombing by children to cat filters being turned on in a US court hearing!

communicating online

Indeed, it is not just presenters and trainers who have moved online. Company owners and managers are now networking, meeting and liaising online with their teams, customers, prospects and suppliers.

This boom has many advantages, not least in cutting travel time and carbon emissions. But not everyone has found the transition easy or natural. Speaking and presenting effectively online requires a new skill set and mindset.

When the first lockdown hit, we took our business – public speaking and presentation training – and pivoted. We already delivered some training online, but now we went online with our whole suite of courses and modules – everything from coping with nerves, to how to be effective in meetings.

As well as delivering our own training online, we’ve adapted the content of our training to help people present themselves online. There’s a certain irony there!

Ten tips for being effective online

  1. Remember you are having a conversation, and that will help you talk more naturally and fluidly (just as you would if you were chatting online to friends or family or taking part in the lockdown craze of online quiz nights). You should look at your audience, and that means looking right into the camera on your computer or tablet, more than at your screen.
  2. You’re not taking part in an audition for Britain’s Got Talent or the X-Factor! You are talking to people who are interested in what you have to say, because you are there to share information and knowledge. So relax, just be yourself on a good day, and add a little 10% extra to make it engaging.
  3. Slow your talking down. This will help you avoid excessive ‘ums’ and ‘ers’ and will also give you a little thinking time. If you take an occasional sip of water, this will help slow your pace too.
  4. Deliver your talk with conviction and enthusiasm. If you think ‘boring’ you will sound boring. Enthusiasm is contagious and helps engage your audience.
  5. Smile, sit tall and look interested. This will get oxygen into your lungs (which is calming) and give you a greater presence on camera. In fact, this also applies to how you sound, so also follow this tip when you are on audio-only.
  6. Remember your body language. Still use hand and facial expressions, just as you would in a face-to-face talk if you were standing. It helps convey your message and gives energy to your voice. Most of us do it when we are on a dramatic phone call!
  7. Make a plan. You don’t need a script – nobody wants to hear you reading that – but list your points and objectives and that will help you keep on point. Less script means more of you!
  8. If you allow questions let your audience know when it is OK to ask them: all the way through or at the end? It is perfectly OK to pause to think before you answer a question.
  9. Don’t end the talk straight after questions. Have a powerful closing statement or call to action and repeat or say last what you want the audience to remember most.
  10. Remember: presenting may open doors you didn’t even know were there, so give it a go and don’t shy away.

Going online and adapting the training to online has certainly benefited our businesses. It has accelerated our plans to create on-demand training (imminent launch), which can be played online and completed when convenient via a dedicated student dashboard. This sits nicely alongside our live, online training.

We will be back training face to face, but even then, the landscape of presentations and public speaking has changed. Learning to be effective online will never be a wasted skill.

We are proud that this article was requested to feature on the Work From Home Game Changer website also, and if any areas resonate for you or your teams, get in touch to discuss how we may be able to help provide the skills and confidence necessary to continue your presence, representation, and important ongoing work online.

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